Psychiatry is a branch of medicine pertaining to diagnosing and treating mental, emotional, and behavioral health disorders. It also can help prevent the development of these conditions. In order to practice psychiatry, a person must be a physician (an M.D. or D.O) with a license to practice medicine and surgery and who has completed four years of psychiatry residency. This qualifies them to diagnose and treat the mental and physical aspects of psychological and neurological conditions and prescribe medications. In addition to the rigorous four part United States Medical Licence Examinations (USMLE) board examinations, there are additional specialty and subspecialty board examinations a psychiatrist must pass in order to be considered a “Board Certified” Psychiatrist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Approximately half of all psychiatrists maintain a private practice where they treat their patients. While most appointments take place in person, recent developments have increased the popularity of telehealth sessions that take place on camera over the internet or via telephone. Psychiatrists may also work in group settings, including general or psychiatric hospitals, clinics, community groups, nursing homes, military locations, and prisons. Many psychiatrists work in facilities that treat addiction to drugs and alcohol, including residential and outpatient locations.
Psychiatrists often prescribe medications as part of their treatment. Common ones include:
- Antidepressants: used for depression, anxiety, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions
- Mood stabilizers: used for bipolar disorder
- Sedatives and anxiolytics: used for panic disorders, anxiety, and insomnia
- Antipsychotic medications: used for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations
Psychiatrists can provide psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, along with prescribing medications, but some people seek two different professionals for these services. Some people receive individual or group therapy from a licensed counselor or other professionals who cannot prescribe medications. They receive talk therapy from them while seeing a psychiatrist for any needed medications. The psychiatrist can confirm a diagnosis, prescribe a med, monitor how the patient tolerates it, and make changes as needed.
Benefits of Psychiatry
Many benefits come from participating in psychiatry sessions. Progress can be made by focusing on understanding events that happened in the past and how they may influence a person’s current station in life. Psychiatry sessions can help a person put events going as far back as their childhood into perspective and stop damaging patterns that developed because of them. Patients can also learn to identify current behaviors and thought patterns that need changing. Problem-solving skills learned in therapy can last long after the end of the sessions, helping a person live a more positive life and achieve their goals.
Some people seek short-term sessions with a psychiatrist and complete their goals within a few weeks, while others benefit from attending therapy for longer periods of time. Even after a person’s therapy sessions end, they may want to check in for periodic appointments to address a situation-specific problem that develops down the line.
Many psychiatrists complete specialized training that allows them to become certified in specific fields of psychiatry. These include the fields of addiction, children and adolescents, geriatrics, neuropsychiatry and pain management.
A person who has never seen a psychiatrist before may be unsure of what constitutes a reason to begin therapy with one. Common reasons include:
- Feelings of anxiety
- Having panic attacks
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol
- Experiencing trauma
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Needing help managing symptoms of conditions such as bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Struggling to deal with life on a daily basis
- Experiencing physical symptoms, sleeping too much, or insomnia which are not caused by medical issues
- Having suicidal thoughts
People commonly wonder what the difference is between psychiatry and psychotherapy. Psychiatry can only be practiced by individuals who are medical doctors who specialize in the field of psychiatry. They can provide talk therapy as well as write prescriptions for any needed medications. Psychology is practiced by individuals who may have a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.), a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Another term often applied is psychotherapist which may include psychologists but more commonly refers to a master’s of arts (M.A.) degree in clinical psychology or professional counseling (L.P.C.) or social work (L.C.S.W.). While these clinicians have undergone intensive training and supervision in order to obtain a clinical license, they do not have the medical training and cannot prescribe any medications. The two often work in conjunction, with psychologists and psychotherapists providing the talk therapy and referring their patients to psychiatrists when they need prescription medications as part of their treatment.
Psychotherapy is the same thing as talk therapy, which involves discussing mental health concerns with a licensed counselor, including both psychiatrists and psychologists. Psychotherapy helps people identify their emotions, life challenges, and any mental illnesses they have. Progress is made in the treatment of them over the course of several sessions in which the therapist and patient talk about the issues and approaches to manage them. Psychotherapy helps patients live up to their full potential, address the past, and be better equipped to handle future challenges.
Whether or not to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist depends on a person’s needs and treatment goals. Both professions can provide psychotherapy. Some people who know they also will need to be prescribed medications and have them monitored prefer to see a psychiatrist in order to get both services from one person.
The Need for Psychiatric Services in Philadelphia
Like any other city in the U.S., Philadelphia has many residents who benefit from receiving treatment from a psychiatrist. A 2015 survey revealed that 46% of Philadelphia adults said they experienced at least one poor mental health day in the previous month. This is an increase from 40% reporting the same thing in the previous two years. In the same year, about one-third of high school students in Philadelphia reported feeling sad or hopeless for a minimum of two weeks during the past year, with 11% stating they had attempted suicide.
About one in four children in the 3rd-12th grades revealed that they did not feel a sense of belonging in school or that they could talk to teachers and staff about problems they had. Statistics like this show that Philadelphia has a large population of residents who can benefit from receiving treatment from a psychiatrist for issues ranging from mental health diagnoses to substance use disorders.
Wave Treatment Centers in Philadelphia, PA provides treatment for addiction to drugs and alcohol and any accompanying mental health conditions. We provide detox, psychiatric services, medication management, and medication-assisted treatment that allow you to embrace recovery from addiction and improve your mental health. We also provide transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) which is an FDA-approved/cleared treatment that is a non-invasive and non-medication treatment for a variety of psychiatric and neurological conditions.
Contact us today and let us answer any questions you have about how we can help.